Thursday, January 22, 2004

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Did Wesley Clark Step In It?

So I mentioned Clark's comments on Kerry to an extraordinarily intelligent, level-headed, and perceptive colleague of mine who is neutral on Clark (and, in fact, ridicules me whenever I exhibit any enthusiasm for his candidacy). I didn't realize that my colleague had heard the interview, but as soon as he realized what I was talking about, he laughed derisively and said, roughly: you've got to be kidding... I heard that interview and it was nothing. He didn't come across as an asshole at all. He just basically sounded like he was making the point that being a career military man and a four-star general gives you more military experience than being in the army for three years--which is obviously true. It would be ridiculous to try to make something out of that comment. We've already given the comment more thought than Clark did before he said it.

Now I'm starting to think that, without actually hearing it it'll be very hard to get a read on it.

Anyway, this conversation about Clark ended up in a conversation about blogging, and how we now have a situation in which everything a candidate (or anyone else of note) says is pounced on and analyzed by hundreds of different people and examined from a zillion different angles. This really is a bizarre situation when these guys are talking to people all day for months on end, answering an enormous variety of questions, and responding in real time. I absolutely guarantee that if you took transcripts from my classes--and I'm pretty damn thoughtful about what I say in them--that you'd be able to find a lot of injudicious or just plain stupid claims, and there'd be lots more that you could spin into something stupid if you really put your mind to it.

I certainly don't mean this as a defense of Clark, and especially not a defense of him in particular. If the point is sound, then it has to be applied across the board. And if sound, all it means is something like this: you have to look for patterns in people's responses, you can't put too much weight in any single comment.

Just a thought. Needless to say, that could all be wrong.


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